Local government election time is here.
There are signs up around the place, and a range of people are looking for their community to elect them with the purpose of having oversight of our towns, cities, and districts for the next three years. Historically there has been quite low voter turnout for our elections. It is really important for each of us to remember the power that your vote has in helping to shape the future of our communities. The people who are elected are making decisions that impact all of us.
There are a number of new candidates running throughout the region this year, and in some spaces we have seen a lot more young people, and a more diverse mix of people in the running for council this year. This is exciting! We have an opportunity to have a diverse and inclusive group of people representing us as our local governments work through a continued period of change.
So, perhaps this is your first time voting, or you are pondering how you make your selections when it comes to the voting process. There are a range of different spaces and places to hear from your local candidates on what they stand for, their views on things, and what they might represent if they were elected. This includes various interviews in media, meet the candidate events, social media, and just bumping into them at the many different community activities over the next month or so.
You want to think about the things that matter to you and help to shape an exciting and vibrant vision for the future, and use your vote to support people who might be committed to those same things. Maybe that is a vision for protecting our environment? Or for providing safe and accessible spaces for our communities? Or perhaps, if you are reading this, it is because you are passionate about arts, culture and creativity and you want to see more of that in the space where you live.
Local council is connected to all those things. From the way we move around our cities, to services like our public libraries, to support for events and community groups, and ultimately how our society deals with the local effects of climate change and how to mitigate our impact! It is vitally important for each of us to have our say!
Democracy is at its best when the voices of the people are heard. Local councillors are directly involved in the day-to-day happenings within your local community. Voting in the local elections is important if you want to have your say on what matters to you.
What does your local council do?? Well they:
- contribute to the cultural, family and sporting events that take place near you
- support creative spaces and venues for people to utilise
- influence play spaces for children in your local parks
- enable our libraries, recreation centres and community halls
- make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians around the city and region
- shape the services and assets we pay for
- look after the city’s investment for vital infrastructure
- having a say on how we monitor and protect our natural environment
- contribute to the wellbeing of our communities
The people you vote for will also decide on funding and maintenance of critical infrastructure that makes the Waikato Region a great place to live. Whether it’s through investment, support, partnership, civic spaces, infrastructure or policy, local government plays a role in enabling people to participate in artistic and cultural expression.
In an era of increasing sameness around the world, it is vital that we support the sharing of our local stories through the richness of the many cultures and artforms that can be found in our region. Because of this, having local councils that support local creative production and participation is especially important. Arts, culture and heritage also have serious holistic value for communities – cultural value, economic value, social value, and beyond. .
Locally, our councils are involved in arts and culture in the following ways:
- Hosting and/or funding events
- Contributing to public artwork and sculptures
- Hiring out community spaces and halls
- Running libraries and programs at the library
- Managing local museums and/or galleries (and their collections)
- Attracting touring shows to town, including performing in council-owned Theatres and venues
- Being custodians of local heritage assets
These things are great, but our creative ecosystem has the potential to thrive even more, and if you would like to see that in your communities, then it is vital you use your vote to support candidates who understand the vision you hold. Democracy works when people utilise their vote and their voice. Where we have a shared understanding of what we are trying to achieve and we build upon the strengths in our community to support the reach of collective vision and potential.
So, how do you find the information on these things from an arts perspective? Well you might be able to talk to some candidates at our Election Connection Roadshow, or to attend other meet the candidate events in your area (information can usually be found on your council website), or alternatively, look below to see candidates responses to questions sent to them about the creative sector.
It can seem like a lot of information, but it is worth considering and it is definitely worth taking the time to vote. Our politicians can be compelled towards positive change through the voices of our communities. If we use our voices to demonstrate what we want our future communities to look like, we can collectively shape that future.
Candidate responses to the arts (per district):
If you click on the district below and they do not expand with an answer, try clearing your cache and then refreshing.
If you are a candidate and don’t see your response, email Alexis (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will be sure to get that updated. Please note, these were only sent to candidates whose emails were made public.
South Waikato District